Optimism surrounds discussions over bespoke deals with the government giving three councils greater flexibilities over housebuilding.
A meeting between representatives from Stoke-on-Trent and Sheffield city councils and Newark & Sherwood Homes - the arm’s length management organisation of Newark & Sherwood DC – and the Department for Communities & Local Government is due to take place on Friday.
The Association of Retained Council Housing, the National Federation of Almos, and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance & Accountancy are also involved in the talks.
LGC previously reported how the first meeting for bespoke housing deals for the three areas had taken place with civil servants in Whitehall in March.
Speaking at the Housing 2017 conference in Manchester, Stoke-on-Trent’s director of housing and customer services Carl Brazier said three meetings had taken place so far.
“The conversations have been very positive, they [DCLG] continue to keep dialogue with us,” he said. “As soon as the election was over they were back in touch… I am optimistic and I suppose the government wants to see more housing numbers.”
Mr Brazier said the discussions were “not just about” gaining greater flexibilities regarding the borrowing cap for housing, but getting “certainties” over the annual 1% rent reduction policy too.
The government’s housing white paper, published earlier this year, said ministers were “interested in the scope for bespoke housing deals with authorities in high demand areas, which have a genuine ambition to build”.
The reason Stoke is among the councils involved in these negotiations is because the council had built up a relationship with officials at DCLG and the Homes and Communities Agency through the local authority’s regeneration and housebuilding projects in recent years, said Mr Brazier.
“Government wants to see a local authority is delivering on some of their priorities,” he said. “Some of the things we’ve been doing we would’ve done anyway but it’s helpful the government has seen we are doing things that are important to them.
“The conversations we have had – we have had about three – have been very positive. There’s an openness from DCLG about wanting to see good local authorities do more than what they currently do.”